Thursday, September 17, 2020

Bovina Ex-Pats - the Irvine Brothers

John A. (1867-1918) and Elizabeth Richards Irvine (1866-1940) were the parents of five children, all born in Bovina on the Gerry estate, where Mr. Irvine was the superintendent of the estate.. They had four sons, William, Lester, John Clifton, and Edgar Lloyd and one daughter. The daughter was Isabell Irvine Russell, wife of Cecil Russell and long-time proprietor with her husband and daughter of Russell’s Store.

Clifton and William Irvine

I think these are the three older Irvine brothers: Lester, Clifton and William

Isabell and Lloyd Irvine

The Irvine family lived on the Gerry estate until late 1899 when John Irvine bought the Black family farm on Coulter Brook. The family had the farm for just under 20 years. John Irvine served as Bovina’s town supervisor from 1899-1907. He was the first farmer to bring his milk to the new creamery in Bovina Center in 1902. Tragically, John committed suicide on New Year’s Day, 1918, likely due to depression over health issues.

William Irvine

Three out of John’s four sons ended up moving west, settling in Washington State. William, Clifton and Lloyd (Isabell’s twin) all settled there.

William Irvine, the eldest, was the first to move west. He moved to Seattle in 1909, after graduating from New York State University as a CPA. He worked for the Fisher Trading Company, rising to the position of secretary and assistant to the president of the Fisher Flouring Mills. His obituary noted that he “occupied a commanding position in the world of business. As a personality he was no less a distinguished figure. He was interested in many things and active in many organizations. A man of unusual charm, his friends numbered legion…” In January 1922, he left the United States to travel to Japan and China and the Phillipines in his function as director of ceremonies for the Shriners. 

William became ill in 1925 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He traveled to Rochester, Minnesota twice for surgery. As reported in the Andes Recorder in December 1925, “he was on the operation table three hours and went through a very painful and trying ordeal, only a local anaesthetic being used so that he was conscious during the entire time.” Bill was well enough the following November to travel east with his wife to visit his mother in Bovina. In August 1928, Irvine was back to the Mayo clinic for a second operation. His mother made a trip to Rochester, Minnesota to see him in September. Bill, with his wife and brother Cliff made the trip back to Seattle in October.

Unfortunately, all the effort to save Bill was for naught and he died on May 7, 1929 in Seattle at the age of 41. 


John Clifton Irvine, born in Bovina in 1892, grew up in Bovina and when he was 21, traveled to Seattle, Washington with his brother Will. Known as Clifton, he was living in Snoqualmie Falls, Washington during World War One, working for the Snoqualmie Falls Lumber Company. He was drafted into service and spent time overseas, returning to Washington after the war. When he went back west, his brother Lloyd accompanied him, as did Millard Blair (Helen Thomson’s brother). He married Anne Maloney in 1921. They had one son. Clifton died in March 1978 after a series of strokes at the age of 84.

As noted above, Edgar Lloyd Irvine, Isabell Russell’s twin brother, decided to join his brothers in the west, traveling with Clifton in the summer of 1919. He worked for Fisher Flouring Mills company in Seattle. At the age of 52, Lloyd was married and had four children. He died in January 1980, the last surviving Irvine brother.

Elizabeth Irvine made at least two visits to her sons in Seattle. She made a trip in December 1920, traveling with her sister-in-law, Mrs. W.T. Black. She went again after her son William’s second brain surgery in 1928.

The one brother who stayed east was Lester Irvine. He married Marie Hood in 1913 and they had one daughter, Eleanor (Eleanor married Don Volante and became the first, and to date only, female mayor of Delhi). Lester graduated from Delaware Academy and later graduated from the U.S. College of Veterinary Surgery in Washington, DC. He worked with Dr. Hamilton in Delhi and later took a post graduate course, starting his practice in 1918. His obituary noted that at the time of his death he was the oldest practicing veterinarian in years of service in Delaware County. Lester died in 1961 at the age of 71.

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